Although this isn’t directly related to CICA but we think it is important that low paid victims of crimes are aware that this exists and is there for them to possibly apply to should they suffer financial hardship as a result of a crime. You can apply to the hardship fund if your injuries do not qualify under the CICA scheme. The amount you receive is equivalent to that of the SSP rate and only those who are not eligible for SSP can apply through the Hardship Fund. The maximum amount you can claim through the fund is capped at 4 weeks, minus the first 3 days of being out of work. The fund only has a budget of around £500,000 hence the reason why the amount you receive and the period of time you receive it for is so low. The Hardship fund is administered by the CICA after an eligibility assessment by Victim Support.
In order to be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- Sustained an injury as a direct result of a violent crime on/after 27th of November 2012. If you were a victim in Scotland, there is a different scheme called the Victims fund.
- Been unable to work for a period of at least 7 consecutive days as a result of a physical or mental injury sustained as a direct result of a crime of violence.
- Earn less than the minimum qualifying amount for Statutory Sick Pay (At the time of writing the current minimum amount is £123 a week)
- Must not be in receipt of SSP or any related employer schemes that are similar or the same as SSP.
- Must not have any unspent criminal convictions which would prevent you from applying under the CICA scheme. Those who have convictions for motoring offences where they have only received an endorsement, fine or points or exempt from this and will not have their payments penalised.
- Must have reported your injuries to the police as soon as reasonably practicable. This generally means within 48 hours of the incident occurring of which you received your injuries.
The application to the Hardship Fund must be received within 8 weeks of the date of the incident. You would not be eligible to claim through the Hardship Fund if the injury you sustained qualifies for compensation through the CICA scheme. Instead, you would need to submit an application to the CICA.
If you also receive ESA, you would need to contact the DWP directly and inform them that you are receiving money from the Hardship Fund. Any payments received will be taken into consideration when deciding the level of income related ESA that you receive.
To apply for the Hardship Fund, a referral needs to be made after an initial assessment by victim support. The CICA will only consider applications for the Hardship Fund, that have been referred by victim support. If you are not aware, victim support is a charity for those who have been impacted by crime. They offer free and practical support for those who have been a direct victim of or witnessed a crime.
As well as meeting the eligibility requirements, you also need to provide evidence to prove that you qualify for receipt of financial aid from the Hardship Fund. You would need to have and provide the following information;
- A crime reference number – Provided by the police when reporting a crime, allows the CICA to confirm that you were in fact a victim of a crime.
- A letter or statement from employer – To show average weekly earnings are less than the qualifying amount for SSP.
- Tax returns copy – This applies for those who are self-employed, to show that their income is less than the minimum amount for SSP before tax.
- Fit note – From a medical practitioner to show that the victim has been unable to work for at least 7 continuous days as a result of the crime.
Once the CICA have received all the information from victim support, whom you will have needed to provide consent to in order to release the information, they will contact the police and conduct a convictions check to ensure that any convictions are taken into account. Applications aim to be processed within 6 working days of receiving all necessary documentation. If an application is refused or a payment is reduced, you will be advised on the reason why. Payment is made directly to the bank account/building society account of the applicant.
Please note that this article is for informative purposes for those who may not be eligible to claim through the CICA as their injuries are deemed ‘too minor’ or not covered by the scheme. Criminal Injury Solicitors do not apply to the Hardship fund on behalf of any Claimants.